On CNN's State of the Union program on Sunday (transcript), White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was questioned about the Obama Administration's indeciviseness in Afghanistan. Attempting to change the subject, Rahm fell back on the standard "blame Bush" defense suggesting that Afghanistan was just another mess that they had to clean up.
You have literally got into a situation, is there another way you can do this? And the president is asking the questions that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side, and the strategic side. What is the impact on the region? What can the Afghan government do or not do? Where are we on the police training? Who would be better doing the police training? Could that be something the Europeans do? Should we take the military side? Those are the questions that have not been asked. And before you commit troops, which is -- not irreversible, but puts you down a certain path -- before you make that decision, there's a set of questions that have to have answers that have never been asked. And it's clear after eight years of war, that's basically starting from the beginning, and those questions never got asked.Amazing. As if no one will realize what a pack of lies that is.
And what I find interesting and just intriguing from this debate in Washington, is that a lot of people who all of a sudden say, this is now the epicenter of the war on terror, you must do this now, immediately approve what the general said -- where, before, it never even got on the radar screen for them. That -- everything was always about Iraq.
Well, Dick Cheney realized it and in an address to the Center for Security Policy on Wednesday Cheney responded (transcript):
CHENEY: Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.
In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.
Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.
Cheney also decried what he called a "drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan" in this speech which deserves to be read in it's entirety. He covered the issue of Obama's pullback from our Polish and Czech allies and missile defense as well as Iran, Iraq and terrorist interrogations.
His closing remarks offer a stinging rebuke to an inexperienced Obama from the man whose career highlights include not only Vice President, but Secretary of Defense and White House Chief of Staff:
There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.
We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.
This speech is yet another reminder from Dick Cheney about what it was like when adults were in charge!